The increasing number of road accidents in South Africa has been a call for concern for decades. The government has created various governing bodies over the years to ease the burden on victims and their families in case the victim dies as a result of the accident. The government is concerned about the safety of South African nationals and foreigners and is seeking ways to promote road safety in the country. The Road Safety Fund is currently in charge of compensating victims for loss, damages, and other complications resulting from road accidents.
This article discusses how to claim from the road accident fund in South Africa.
Road Accident Fund
The Road Accident Fund is an insurance fund that the South African government supports that compensates the victims of road accidents within the South African border. It succeeded the Multilateral Motor Vehicle Accidents Fund (MMF) in 1997. RAF is funded through an automatic system that imposes a levy on the price and sale of all diesel and petrol products in South Africa. The RAF receives this general fuel tax every month and does not fund the RAF’s operations and liability. The diesel level is 10,3 cents per litre, and the petrol levy is 14,5 cents per litre.
Furthermore, the RAF gets extra funds from investments in assets. The diesel and petrol levy is a smart funding method because it simplifies the collection of revenue, makes it more effective, and eliminates the problem of unidentified or uninsured motor vehicles, which was rapidly becoming a source of concern in the MMF era. However, the RAF’s deficit has been multiplying by 2 every 3 to 5 years because of some factors.
- The high cost of settling professionals such as medical specialists and attorneys makes it increasingly difficult to properly compensate victims.
- RAF takes a long time to complete settlements which can stretch from months to years.
- South Africa has a high accident rate which is rapidly depleting RAF funds.
- The dependants of dead motor vehicle victims receive some compensation whether or not the victim was negligent, intoxicated, or outright reckless.
- General damages and passenger claims are also big reasons why the RAF is has been experiencing a dive down a steep hill of finances.
Road Accident Fund: Why it was established
The Road Accident Fund was established to pay compensation for damage or loss undeservedly caused by driving vehicles within South Africa. It is a parastatal organization that the South African government established, and it is accountable to the Minister of Transport. The Road Accident Fund can sue and be sued because it is a juristic individual. The RAF is a statutory creation that was established following Section 2 (1) of the Road Accident Fund Act, 1996 that became functional on the 1st of May 1997.
Type of cover the Road Accident Fund provides
The Road Accident Fund provides the right cover for South African citizens and foreigners who use roads in South Africa. RAF efficiently promotes the safe use of roads in South Africa and compensates/rehabilitates injured victims of vehicle accidents in a caring and timely fashion. RAF provides two types of cover which are:
- A personal insurance cover for the victims of accidents or to their family members in case the victim dies because of the accident.
- The RAF provides indemnity cover to those who are in the wrong.
- What does the Road Accident Fund cover?
- Lost earnings if the accident made it impossible for you to work.
- Medical expenses resulting from the accident.
- Funeral expenses if the accident led to someone’s death.
- Loss of support if the sole breadwinner died in an accident because of another person’s negligence.
- General damages to deal with suffering and pain if a person has become seriously disfigured or is seriously injured, has lost an unborn baby, has lost a bodily function, or has become mentally impaired.
- Who can claim from the Road Accident Fund?
- Someone who relied on financial support from the dead breadwinner.
- Anyone who had a physical injury except the driver who was solely behind the accident.
- A close relation of the dead person who also funded the funeral.
- South Africans and foreign nationals can claim the RAF.
- If the driver of the vehicle is not the owner of the vehicle and the accident was due to negligence by the owner.
Note that a curator ad litem, a parent, or a legal guardian must accompany a minor who is a claimant.
Who can’t claim from the Road Accident Fund?
- You did not collide with another vehicle, and bad roads were not a contributing factor to the accident. You were the only one in the accident, and you crashed your vehicle into a pole, a tree, or a rock.
- You are the owner and driver of the car that was entirely responsible for the accident that happened due to your negligence.
Who typically claims from the Road Accident Fund?
Drivers, pedestrians, passengers, motorcyclists, and cyclists can claim from the Road Accident Fund provided they are not the sole cause of the accident.
What can you claim from the Road Accident Fund?
- You can claim lost earnings of the accident made it impossible for you to work.
- You can claim medical expenses.
- You could claim funeral expenses if the accident led to someone’s death.
- You could claim loss of support if the sole breadwinner died in an accident because of another person’s negligence.
- You can claim general damages to deal with suffering and pain if you have become seriously disfigured, are seriously injured, have lost an unborn baby, have lost a bodily function, or become mentally impaired.
Does it matter where the road accident was?
Yes, it does. That is why you are supposed to include the exact location of the accident in your claim.
How does the Road Accident Fund assess my claim?
The RAF has a claim system where it will register your claim and begin an investigation into the claim. The RAF decides whether or not your claim is valid by checking if there was a road accident if the claim was submitted in time, and the statutory provisions, etc. the RAF also checks the merits of the case and the level of losses suffered. The RAF may ask for more information and supporting documents if you make an incomplete claim. This will help the RAF assess the situation better.
What is considered a serious injury?
A serious injury reaches/is over the 30% Whole Person Impairment threshold after a medical specialist conducts a thorough assessment following the American Medical Association’s guidelines. A serious injury is one that:
- Causes permanent damage or severe disfigurement, e.g. paraplegia.
- The loss of a fetus (unborn child).
- The loss of a bodily function or a long-term impairment, e.g. amputation.
- A severe long-term behavioural or mental disorder/disturbance.
- Seemingly minor injuries can be considered serious if they have a damaging effect, such as a torn ligament that will put an end to your career or make it impossible to work for a long time.
What injuries are not covered by the Road Accident Fund?
Injuries that do not reach 30% of the Whole Person Impairment threshold that is based on the guidelines of the American Medical Association. Only a medical specialist can assess an injured person to determine that their injury is not serious. Examples of such injuries are superficial wounds, torn ligaments, sprains, or whiplash.
How to claim from the Road Accident Fund
Lodge a claim on an RAF 1. It should contain your information (the claimant) information of the vehicles, those involved in the accident, where and when the accident happened, the amount you’re claiming, and a medical report. Attach an affidavit that has police reports, vouchers & documents to support the amount you are claiming, a full report of the accident, medical and hospital records.
The driver of the vehicle you were in and the driver of the other vehicle that was involved in the collision have to fill an RAF 3 form which is a statutory accident report, within 14 days of the accident. Include the details of the accident and add any other information that the Road Accident Fund requests from the witnesses. Then submit the form to the Road Accident Fund. You have to submit an R4 which is a Serious Injury Report to the RAF if you claimed general damages and to show that you sustained serious injury.
Do I need a lawyer to claim from the Road Accident Fund?
Generally, the RAF has information officers in all its branches to help all claimants for free. Although having a lawyer is not compulsory, it’s advisable to get one to get a better RAF payout at a faster rate. Please note that you will pay the lawyer for their professional services, and attorney fees can be high sometimes.
Is there a time limit for claiming from the Road Accident Fund?
- Yes, there is a limit. You have to lodge a claim within 3 years from the date the accident occurred, and it has to be finalized in not more than 5 years from the day the accident happened. This time frame applies in the case that you were able to identify the driver/owner of the vehicle responsible for the accident.
- If it is the case of a hit-and-run accident, you have to lodge a claim within 2 years from the date the accident occurred and it has to be finalized within 5 years from the date the accident occurred.
- Suppose you are lodging a claim regarding an undertaking certificate that was issued regarding Section 17(4)(a)(ii) of the Act. In that case, it must be finalized within 5 years from the date that the injured were rendered services.
How long does the Road Accident Fund take to payout?
The road accident fund typically takes 180 days after the court ruling to payout, but it can stretch to years in some cases.
Am I guaranteed a payout from the Road Accident Fund?
Yes, you are guaranteed a payout from the Road Accident Fund if you follow the guidelines to lodge a claim, and the RAF validates your claim additionally if you provide an original bank indemnity to indicate the account into which the payout should be made.
How much does the Road Accident Fund pay claimants?
This is a list of the average amount that claimants can receive from the RAF, but it can be more than this depending on the situation.
- Claimants get R450,307 for loss of support.
- Claimants get R18,568 for medical claims.
- Claimants get R826,007 for loss of support.
- Claimants get R18,521 for funeral costs.
- Claimants get R482,291 for general damages.
How does the Road Accident Fund pay a claimant?
The RAF pays claimants into the claimant’s bank account or that of whoever the claimant has received a written authorization to make payments into their account. The claimant has to fill out a bank indemnity and take it to the bank to verify the bank account detail and submit the original form to the RAF.
How to check my Road Accident Fund claim?
Take along your ID card when going to check the status of your RAF claim. Contact RAF service consultants in any of these locations
- Bara Taxi Rank, JHB: 08:00 am to 14:00
- Bosksburg Taxi Rank, JHB: 09:00 am to 14:00
- Esangweni Taxi Rank – Tembisa, JHB: 09:00 am to 14:00
- Far Eastrand Hospital, JHB: 10:00 am to 14:00
- Thelle Mogoerane Regional Hospital Lower Ground: 08:00 am to 15:30
- Zeerust on the N4, North West: 10:00 am to 16:00
Can a driver claim from the RAF if he/she caused the accident?
The driver who was the sole cause of the accident can not claim from the Road Accident Fund. the driver can, however, get indemnity cover because they were in the wrong.
Can I claim for a hit-and-run accident?
Yes, you can and it must happen within 2 years from the date of the accident and be finalized within 5 years from the date of the accident.
What information must I get at the scene of the accident?
Get the names of the drivers, their addresses, telephone numbers, identity numbers, vehicle registration numbers, description of the vehicles, details about the license discs, the date, time, and location of the accident, the road and weather conditions when the accident occurred, etc. the RAF may ask for more information so be ready to provide it.
Can I lodge a claim for a minor?
Yes, you can lodge a claim for a minor if you are their parent, curator ad litem, or legal guardian.